Roy Fredericks, the left handed West Indian opening batsman of the sixties and seventies, who passed away in New York on September 5, was a well known name in Indian cricket circles. Not only did he tour India in 1974-75, he also played against the country in two series in West Indies in 1971 and 1976.
An attacking batsman who played both spin and pace with equal felicity, Fredericks did very well in the 1971 series with scores of 45, 16, 0, 80, 47, 5, 1 and 48 in four Tests. All the same, he remains one of the few cricketers to be bowled off the first ball of a Test match against India. He suffered this fate in the second Test at Port of Spain when he was out to Abid Ali. The decision was first given out as leg before but was later corrected as bowled. The ball brushed against his pad before going on to hit the stumps.
By the time he came to India in 1974-75 as part of a rebuilt West Indian side under new captain Clive Lloyd, Fredericks had compiled a very consistent record and was reckoned to be one of the main threats. It is a tribute to his attacking skills that even in a star studded batting line up that consisted of two exciting new batting prospects in Gordon Greenidge and Vivian Richards and two established stars in Lloyd and Alvin Kallicharran, Fredericks lived up to his reputation and hit two centuries in the five match rubber. He had scores of 23, 5, 100, 21, 14, 19, 104 and 37. He and Greenidge were an excellent pair of opening batsmen, being at their best in the decisive Test at Bombay when they helped set up West Indies' victory with partnerships of 81 and 75.
Fredericks was still a force to reckon with when India toured West Indies in 1976. He ran up scores of 54, 0, 8, 27, 25, 82 and 6 not out in the four Tests. He just missed the dubious honour of being bowled by the first ball of a Test against India. The match, interestingly enough, was the second Test at Port of Spain. This time he was bowled by Madan Lal off the second ball of the game. However, with a record of 767 runs from 13 Tests with two hundreds and three fifties, at an average of almost 35, Fredericks was justifiably proud of his record against India, even if it did not match his overall Test average of 42.49. He will be remembered in this country as a bustling little left hander who loved to play strokes with gay abandon and for his keen duels with the spin quartet, then at the peak of its powers.